Photo of Tom Kiefer

Tom Kiefer

Ajo, AZ, United States

From the beginning Tom Kiefer's chosen area of work involved the arts. Working in the Graphic Design/Advertising field during the 1980’s in Los Angeles after studying for two years at the University of Washington, Kiefer, in 1991 left two dimensional visual arts and opened an antique store specializing in cast-iron beds which entailed traveling throughout the U.S. (and sometimes Canada) twice a year to gather up merchandise. The business was sold in 1998 so he could dedicate his efforts to fine-art photography which included the key and pivotal decision of moving to Ajo, Arizona in December 2001 that allowed the lowering of living expenses, purchasing a home (part of the American Dream) and deepen his understanding of art and the creative process. In October 2003, Kiefer was invited by the Sonoran Institute to participate in a five day, two nation media tour of the lower Colorado River Delta. This region continues to face severe ecological threats of over-development and water conservation disputes between the U.S. and Mexico. As a result of this tour, he began a photographic essay in 2006 of the Sonoran Desert focusing on the landscape, cultural markers and infrastructure of the Phoenix, Tucson and Ajo region, resulting in a three-part photographic project titled ”Journey West Exhibit”. The first series, “Tucson to Ajo” was exhibited extensively throughout the state and an overview of the entire project was featured at Tucson International Airport in 2012 to coincide with the Arizona centennial. His defining work "El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)" began in 2009 as an extensive and ongoing photographic presentation of the personal effects and belongings of migrants that were seized and discarded at a U.S. Custom Border Patrol facility near Ajo, Arizona. Kiefer was employed at this facility from July 2003 until his resignation in August 2014 to work on this project full time in order to publicly launch by the summer of 2015. In August 2015, he received honors from two prestigious photography organizations; LensCulture for Top 50 emerging photographers in 2015 and PhotoLucida Critical Mass top 50, both were in recognition for his work on El Sueño Americano. Internationally, the project has been published as a featured photographic essay in Japan’s “Newsweek”, France’s “Le Monde” and Mexico’s “Marie Claire”. Online articles have been numerous and include “The New Yorker” and CNN. The first formal exhibition of over 60 fine art prints took place in April 2016 at Art Intersection located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Exhibitions include: "Estamos Aqui/We Are Here", Downtown Gallery, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA July 2017, "El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)", Performing Arts Center, Avondale, AZ, November 2016, "Domestic Seen", Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS, October 2016, "Stump!", Candela Books + Gallery, Richmond, VA, September 2016, "El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)", Art Intersection, Gilbert, AZ, April 2016, "El Sueño Americano Project", SRO Gallery, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, November 2015, "Journey West Exhibit Overview", Tucson International Airport, Tucson, AZ, January 2012, "High & Dry Retrospective", Centennial Museum, University of Texas, El Paso, TX, February 2010, "Journey West Exhibit; Tucson to Ajo", Yuma Fine Arts Museum, Yuma, AZ, May 2008, "Journey West Exhibit; Tucson to Ajo", Phoenix Airport Museum, Phoenix, AZ, July 2007, "Journey West Exhibit: Tucson to Ajo", Tucson International Airport, Tucson, AZ, January 2007, "High and Dry 6", International Cultural Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, December 2006, "World of Water: Landscapes of Dry Lands", Witte Museum, San Antonio, TX, January 2005 and "Regarding Water in the West", Landmark Arts Gallery, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, January 2004. His work is held in the following collections: Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS, The Midland Group, MidFirst Bank, Scottsdale, AZ, Law Offices of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite, Phoenix, AZ and Texas Tech University, Southwest Collections/Special Collections, Lubbock, TX.

Tom's ArtPrize Entries

These are Tom's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.

  • Photo of El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)

    El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)

    2017 ArtPrize Entry Tom Kiefer
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